Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Doll Gifts Part 3

A gift of dolls from Leslie Foster includes a Topsy Turvy doll, three souvenir dolls, two Black Americana dolls, a composition doll, and an oilcloth mask-face doll.

This is part 3 of a 3-part doll-gifts series to acknowledge dolls that I have received recently from doll friends and people who do not know me personally.

These eight dolls were a gift from Leslie Foster, who happened to find me through this blog.  These were purchased, she indicated, over several years because she found them interesting.  I also find them interesting.

Each doll has been photographed individually and its description recorded in my doll inventory workbook.  They are as follows:

Topsy Turvy, also known as Two-Sided and Double-Sided Doll
Circa 1940s Topsy Turvy, black side up

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this 11-inch circa 1940s doll is a Topsy Turvy.  The black doll has a machine-painted face that is made of black cloth.  She is dressed in a red and white polka dot dress and wears a red headscarf tied in a top knot.  She is missing one of her gold-tone earrings.

Topsy Turvy, white side up

The white doll has a lithographed/screen printed face and yellow yarn for hair that is underneath a blue and white gingham sewn-on bonnet.  Dress color and fabric match the bonnet.  Both dolls' eyes side-glance to their left.

Spice Lady Caribbean Souvenir Doll
Spice Lady Caribbean Souvenir Doll
Still enclosed in a sealed plastic bag, this circa 1960s 7-inch cloth doll has a spice-filled skirt.  A faint scent of the mixed spices is still apparent.  The face is drawn with black ink.  She wears a red bonnet that is tied on with a piece of rust-colored yarn at the neck.  A tag stapled to the end of her scarf reads, "Sunny Caribbe" with "Spice Lady" written below that.

Black Americana Cotton Picker
Black Americana Cotton Picker

Circa 1930s-1940s 9-inch doll has black cloth head with lithographed eyes, nose, and mouth.

He has salt-and-pepper hair.
Black and white yarn create the "cotton picker's" salt and pepper colored hair. His arms are made of wire with black felt used for his hands.  His body, legs, and feet are black wood.  He wears a striped cotton shirt with blue cotton bibbed pants, no shoulder straps. Clothes are stapled on.  

There is real cotton is in his burlap bag.
The Cotton Picker carries a burlap cotton-filled bag.

Trinidad and Tobago Lady Souvenir Doll
Trinidad and Tobago Cloth Lady Souvenir Doll
This circa 1940s 11-inch cloth doll made from heavy canvas-type brown fabric has painted eyes and mouth and a sculpted nose.  

There are creases in her lovely face and some of her lip color has faded.  I want to remove the creases, but I am not sure how.

She has short hair made from black yarn.  Silver beads are sewn to her ears for earrings.  Different cotton printed fabrics were used for her headscarf, shawl, and dress.  A yellowed slip shows underneath the dress.  Trinidad and Tobago is stamped over St. Thomas near the bottom of the slip.  Apparently, this doll or the fabric used for the doll's skirt was also used for St. Thomas souvenir dolls. 

This Trinidad and Tobago Souvenir Lady carries a basket on her right arm that has red, orange, and blue pieces of felt glued to the outside.   Heavy cardstock creates soles which are glued to the bottom of her brown cloth feet (not shown).

Black Americana Boy

Circa 1940s-1950s cloth boy
This 16-inch circa 1940s-1950s Black Americana cloth boy made from black fabric has handpainted side-glancing eyes, a red-painted nose, and a circle-shaped mouth.

He has half-moon-shaped sclerae and seems to be surprised about something.

He has copper-colored yarn hair underneath a red felt cap.  His overalls were made from mattress ticking.  There is a floral fabric patch on the right knee of his overalls that can be seen in his first photo above.

Composition Topsy

Circa 1920s 9-inch unmarked composition Topsy has three yarn braids with yellowed ribbons on the ends.  

Topsy has painted side-glancing eyes (the paint has faded).  She is spring jointed and wears a pinned-on white jersey-knit diaper.  The top layer of the composition has flaked off in several areas and continues to flake.  I plan to apply a sealant to prevent additional flaking.  The right arm will not remain inside the socket.  I will try to remedy this as well. 

Jamaica Souvenir Doll

Jamaica souvenir doll

This 9-inch circa 1940s Jamaica souvenir cloth doll has a basket of faux fruit attached to her head.  The fruit is made from balls of colored tissue paper.  

A closer look at the fruit basket

She has a hand-painted face.  The head, arms, legs, and body are made from black cloth.  Multiprint fabrics create the headscarf, dress, and apron.  "Jamaica" is written on the waist of the dress.  This doll is similar to two others that were given to me in 2015 by another woman named Lesley (different spelling, however).  The other two are a couple of inches taller than this one.  This doll is also made similar to one of the dolls given to me by Ms. Grace Anderson.  All three similar dolls can be seen here.

Oilcloth Mask-Face Doll
Circa 1930s Oilcloth Mask-Face Doll
The final doll from Leslie is a 12-inch circa 1930s oilcloth mask face doll with painted facial features.  

She has a charming face.
The eyes glance to the doll's right.  Mohair bangs are underneath a light pink headscarf which is tied in a knot at the top of the doll's head.  Underneath the pink scarf is a red, white, and blue striped scarf made from the same material as the skirt of the doll's dress.  The doll's arms are made from blue fabric that has multicolored diamond shapes.  She wears a white blouse with a red, white, and blue striped skirt, and red felt sewn-on shoes.  She is now my second oilcloth mask-face doll, the other one having been purchased many years ago.


Thank you again, Leslie, for your generous gift of dolls.  I had actually forgotten how many dolls you were sending.  My mind was focused on receiving only four dolls from you.  After I opened the package and continued unwrapping the well-packed dolls beyond four, I realized I had received a double blessing!

Related Links
Doll Gifts Part 1
Doll Gifts Part 2
Topsy Turvy dolls (recently updated)


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Doll Gifts Part 2

17-inch handcrafted Caribbean souvenir doll and 14-inch handmade cloth doll circa 1940s

This is part 2 of a 3-part doll-gifts series to acknowledge dolls that I have received recently from doll friends and people who do not know me personally.

On June 5, 2019, I received an email from Ms. Grace K. Anderson asking if I knew of anyone or if I would be interested in accepting the above two dolls as a donation.  Ms. Anderson indicated this pair had been owned by her mother-in-law who passed away recently.  The dolls were discovered during the process of cleaning her mother-in-law's house and the family wanted to find a place to donate the dolls, either with a collector or an institution.  Very little was known about the dolls other than the fact that they belonged to Ms. Anderson's mother-in-law.

After extending my condolences to her and her family, I thanked her for writing to me and indicated I would be happy to accept the dolls.  I asked if she knew if her mother-in-law made the dolls since one of the two appeared to be handmade based on the photos she shared.  I also asked if she could tell me something about her mother-in-law.  Specifically, I wanted to know if she owned other dolls and how old she was when she passed.

Part of her reply is copied below:

Dear Debbie,
Thank you for such a quick reply and for your condolences. Both my husband and sister-in-law don't have any recollection about these dolls. My mother-in-law was an artist and also a collector in many ways, but she did not own any other dolls. My sister-in-law thinks these dolls may have been acquired at an estate sale. I wish I had more provenance for you.

As for my mother-in-law, her name was Carola Penn and there is a nice obituary and link to her website here:
https://www.orartswatch.org/carola-penn-longtime-portland-artist-dies/ She was quite a disciplined artist and remarkable as she raised two kids on her own while getting by as an artist. She was really a beautiful person and had many close friends who were truly amazing during the last year of Carola's life... She was only 74 when she passed.

I am happy these dolls will have an important home to go to. Thank you so much! If you learn anything further about these dolls, I'd be curious to learn more about them...perhaps on your blog? :)

Thank you again and please let me know if I can assist with this in other ways.

Warm regards,

I made an entry for each doll in my Excel doll inventory workbook under the 2019 tab.  What I wrote under the Year of Manufacture, Name, and Description columns for each doll is copied below.

Circa 1940s / Handmade Cloth Souvenir Islander Doll
16-inch Caribbean souvenir doll, circa 1940s

16-inch handmade cloth doll from the Caribbean Islands uses black twill fabric for the face onto which simple features are painted.   Black cotton was used for the body, arms, and legs.  Arms and legs are jointed.  The doll has a mature bosom.  Her headscarf and dress are made from a variety of floral-print cotton fabrics.  The back of the blouse uses madras fabric which has deep West African and Caribbean roots. [https://face2faceafrica.com/article/how-the-colonial-madras-fabric-played-a-role-in-transatlantic-slave-trade] She holds a basket of fruit or food that a woman she represents would plan to sell in the tourist sections of her town.  The fruit or food is represented by red and yellow cloth-covered balls.  She wears an apron over her skirt and madras undies.  Her body appears to be stuffed with paper.  Dolls remain a huge tourist commodity in the Caribbean.  Some are sold in tourist shops while others are sold by street vendors in tourist areas.  

Additional pictures of this doll are included next:

This close-up of her face illustrates her hand-painted facial features.  Two red dots represent her nose.

She holds a basket of fruit.  Black cotton fabric was used for her arms.

Black twill fabric was used for her face, body, and legs, which are machine stitched.  Madras fabric was used for her undies.  The same fabric was used for the back of her blouse, which is illustrated next.
The back of the blouse is made from madras plaid fabric.

Circa 1940s / Handmade Cloth Doll
14-inch circa 1940s handmade cloth doll

14-inch circa 1940s handmade black cloth doll was made from black cloth and cotton stuffing. Simple facial features of eyes and mouth are stitched with embroidery thread. 17 knots of black yarn frame the top and sides of her head. She has no hair in the back. She wears a sewn-on tan and beige floral-print dress, a blue and white plaid apron, and white cotton pantaloons. Her right arm was detached from her body upon arrival but hanging inside her sleeve. I restitched it to the body to make her whole. 

Additional photos of this doll follow:

Her tiny eyes and mouth are stitched on.  She does not have a nose.

This profile photo illustrates her Nubian- or Bantu-knots hairstyle created with knots of black yarn.

She wears full-length pantaloons, no shoes.

The Caribbean souvenir doll displays well with similar dolls that I own.
As illustrated in the souvenir doll's last picture above, she displays well with similar dolls.  The two smaller dolls that accompany her were gifts from a Candian woman, who sent them to me in 2015.  They belonged to her grandfather, who she indicated was born in the late 1800s.  He is believed to have purchased them during a 1940s trip to Jamaica.

The other cloth doll has found a display companion.

The smaller cloth doll is made on a very similar style as a larger cloth doll that I have owned for several years.  She now sits with her larger doll companion.  

Thank you again, Grace, for contacting me and for allowing me to provide a new home for this pair.

Related Link:
Doll Gifts Part 1 


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Twin Towers Backdrop

Janay Princess Delight by Integrity Toys, 1999

In remembrance of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001,  and the survivors of the World Trade Center (WTC) attack, Janay Princess  Delight by Integrity Toys, 1999 is shown in her original box that has a backdrop of the Twin Towers.

Janay is Integrity Toys' first 12-inch fashion doll.  This particular doll uses the original Janay head sculpt.   She is dressed in a black velour gown with a silver cape and silver high-heel shoes.  Princess Delight Janay wears a silver ring and a rhinestone choker.  Her black hair is styled in an updo.  She has painted brown eyes.  Other versions of Princess Delight Janay were made, the same doll dressed in red or blue gowns.  Another (deluxe version) was made wearing a variety of gown colors (red, blue or black) that came with an extra knee-length silver dress.

Little did Integrity Toys know that within two years after the various versions of Princess Delight Janay were produced, the Twin Towers in New York would be destroyed on September 11, 2001.

The original World Trade Center complex in March 2001 is shown. The tower on the left, with antenna spire, was 1 WTC. The tower on the right was 2 WTC. All seven buildings of the WTC complex are partially visible. The red granite-clad building left of the Twin Towers was the original 7 World Trade Center. In the background is the East River. (Photo and caption from Wikipedia.com).


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Detroit Doll Show

Save the Date

2019 Detroit Doll Show

We are are excited to announce that the 8th Annual Detroit Doll Show will take place on Saturday, November 9, 2019 in the heart of our community at the Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers Rd. Detroit MI 48235.  There will be free parking, food and fun for the entire family. 
The mission is to celebrate history, culture, self love and diversity with the promotion of dolls of color.


Children's Book Authors, Black Memorabilia, Culture Corner and Black Dolls
*Doll Look-Alike Contest
*Shop Till you Drop with a Variety of Vendors
*Spoken Word Artist Mikhaella Norwood
*Giant Games
*Doll Making Workshops
*Arts & Craft
*Head Wrap Workshop by Love Rose
*DJ (Live Music)
*Photo Box
...and MORE

Visit www.2019detroitdollshow.eventbrite.com for group tickets. Make sure to check out the Detroit Doll Show page on Facebook and Instagram for program participants, vendors and more, or call 313-492-6953 for more information. We are looking for vinyl, reborn and fabric dolls, if you know of any please share the information by email at sandysland@gmail.com. THANK YOU!

This post is on behalf of Sandy's Land.  Information about the show
is also listed under the Doll Events tab of this blog.


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

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Saturday, September 7, 2019

Rosa Parks Barbie and the Remarkable Woman Who Inspired the Doll

A stock photo of the Rosa Parks Barbie includes the doll and the iconic image of Mrs. Rosa Parks seated on a Montgomery, Alabama bus.  The photo of Mrs. Parks was taken on December 21, 1956, to reenact the historic event of December 1, 1955, when Mrs. Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white male passenger.  Her passive resistance that day led to her arrest and a citywide Montgomery Bus Boycott that lasted a year until the Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery's segregated bus system was illegal.  Loss of capital from a city of African Americans who refused to continue riding segregated buses undoubtedly influenced the Supreme Court's decision; however, it was Rosa Parks' courage that ignited the change.

To honor Mrs. Parks for her courageous work in the Civil Rights Movement, Mattel has included a doll in her likeness in their Inspiring Women series.

Actual photos of my doll (still in the box) and photos taken by Romona Jennings of her doll posed outside the box are included in this image-intense post.

The Rosa Parks Barbie is presented in a box that has the inside of a bus as the background. The iconic image of Mrs. Parks is in the lower-left corner of the box.  In addition to the doll, a doll stand and a certificate of authenticity are included.
While the doll does not have a dedicated head sculpt, I appreciate the sculpt used (described as FNJ40/Alec on the Barbie/Mattel website).  Barbie Fashionistas 82 and 123, among others, use this sculpt, which appropriately captures Mrs. Park's facial features.  The complexion is also correct.  The doll's glasses are similar to those worn by Mrs. Parks.

The same iconic image of Mrs. Parks in a larger size is on the back of the box above the words:
Rosa Parks
Civil Rights Activist
(1913 - 2005)
The text on the back of the box is shown above and copied below:
"Each person must live their life as a model for others." – Rosa Parks

Barbie® recognizes all female role models.  The Inspiring Women Series™ pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before.  

Rosa Louise Parks led an ordinary life as a seamstress until an extraordinary moment on December 1, 1955.  When she refused an order to give up her seat to a white passenger and move to the back of the bus, Mrs. Parks' act of defiance became the catalyst for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Rosa Parks' quiet strength played a notable role in the civil rights movement, but it would still take another nine years and more struggles before the 1964 Civil Rights Act overruled existing [segregations] laws.  Hailed as "the Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement," Rosa Parks earned worldwide recognition and numerous awards including the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.

Girls need more role models like Rosa Parks, because imagining they can be anything is just the beginning.  Actually seeing that they can makes all the difference.

Ms. Jennings graciously shared the following photos of her deboxed Rosa Parks Barbie and answered my questions regarding the quality of the doll's clothing.

The doll's gray wool-type jacket is stitched closed, which makes it difficult to seat her.

Underneath the unlined coat, she wears a tan and beige floral-print sleeveless dress with dark gray mock-lace oxfords.

Her dress has an unfortunate Velcro closure in back.

Here is a closer look at her period-appropriate shoes.
She wears a pillbox hat that has a faux white flower on the side.

Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail with the ends tucked under.

She holds a black clutch (which Romona has left inside the plastic that keeps it attached to her gloved hand).
In these next photos, Romona has created several backdrops that recount the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama bus incident and the events that followed.

Standing in front of images of Rosa Parks, the Rosa Parks Barbie holds newspapers.  One has a headline about her arrest; the other headlines the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which began on December 5, 1955, four days after Mrs. Parks' arrest.
The doll stands before additional images of Mrs. Parks. 
Mrs. Parks was only 42 on December 1, 1955.  The Rosa Parks Barbie appropriately represents a woman of this age.  In this photo and the one immediately below, the doll stands in the forefront of an image of a more mature Mrs. Parks that includes one of her quotes that reads, "You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right."

There are buy pages for the Rosa Parks Barbie at the Barbie/Mattel website and Walmart where the dolls are "flying off the Internet shelves" as quickly as ordering is made available.  This is proof that dolls like this are very much desired when they adequately portray the people they represent.  With the exception of a few complaints from folks that Mattel's description on the back of the doll's box lacks completeness, doll collectors seem to overall appreciate Mattel's efforts in the production of this doll.  No one else has mass-produced a doll in Mrs. Park's honor.

For those who desire more information about Mrs. Parks beyond what Mattel provided on the back of the box, I have added the following additional details about her remarkable life which is followed by a video.

Birth: Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama.
Education:  At age 16, she left high school in grade 11 to care for her grandmother and later for her ailing mother.  She went back and completed high school in 1933 and attended Alabama State College.
Marriage:  In 1932, she married Raymond Parks, who was a barber and also a civil rights activist.  It was Mr. Parks who encouraged her to complete her high school education.
Employment:  Mrs. Parks "worked as a clerk, an insurance salesperson, and a tailor's assistant at a department store.  She was also employed at the time [of her arrest on December 1, 1955] as a part-time seamstress by Virginia and Clifford Durr, two white residents of Montgomery who were staunch supporters of the black freedom struggle." [1]  After moving to Detroit in 1957, she worked as a seamstress.  From 1965 through 1988 she was an administrative assistant for Congressman John Conyers.
Civil Rights Involvement:  Mrs. Parks' involvement in the struggle for civil rights began as early as the 1930s.  She and her husband supported the Scottsboro Boys (nine black teenagers falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931).  Additionally, she joined the Montgomery NAACP in 1943, worked as a youth advisor, served as NAACP secretary from 1943 to 1956, and "helped operate the joint office of the NAACP and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters." [2]  She also worked with the Montgomery Voter's League to increase voter registration amongst blacks.  While living in Detroit, she was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and she participated in numerous marches and rallies including the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery as part of a voting rights campaign for blacks.  A lifelong activist, in the mid-1980s "she was a supporter of the free South Africa movement and walked the picket lines in Washington, D.C., with other antiapartheid activists." [3]
Awards:  "Parks, an international symbol of African-American strength, has been given numerous awards and distinctions, including ten honorary degrees.  In 1979, she was awarded the NAACP's prestigious Spingarn Medal.  In 1980, she was chosen by Ebony [magazine] readers as the living black woman who had done the most to advance the cause of black America.  In the same year, she was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr., Nonviolent Peace Prize by the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change.  In addition, the SCLC has honored her by sponsoring the annual Rosa Parks Freedom Award."[4]   On what would have been her 100th birthday, on February 4, 2013, Rosa Parks was honored with a U. S. Postage Forever Stamp.

 Mrs. Parks speaks in the short video below.

The Rosa Parks Barbie indeed honors a woman who was not ordinary.  She was a woman of extraordinary deeds and accomplishments in the area of civil rights.   Thank you, Mattel, for honoring Rosa Parks.  I believe she would be pleased.

In her own words, Mrs. Parks described the Montgomery bus incident as follows,

"I was quite tired after spending a full day working.  The section of the bus where I was sitting was what we called the colored section.  Just as soon as enough white passengers got on the bus to take what we consider their seats and then a few over, that meant that we would have to move back for them even though there was no room to move back.  It was an imposition as far as I was concerned."[5]

With the stitch in the coat removed, Romona Jennings' Rosa Parks Barbie is able to sit more comfortably.

Thank you for remaining seated, Mrs. Parks.

Related Links:
More Complete List of Awards
The Man Behind Rosa Parks (in the bus ride reenactment photo)
Rosa Parks, Black History Biographies


1.  Jack Saltzman, "Rosa Parks Quiet Woman Starts a Race Revolution on the Bus," MacMillan
      Information Now Encyclopedia, The African-American Experience, (New York:
      MacMillan Library Reference, 1993) 461.
2.  ibid
3.  ibid
4.  ibid
5.  Charles H. Wesley, "Direct Action and Passive Resistance–the Struggle to Let Freedom
     Ring," International Library of Negro Life and History the Quest for Equality from Civil War to
     Civil Rights, (New York, Washington, London:  Publishers Company, Inc., 1970), 246

There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

Thank you for following, commenting, and sharing using the share button below.

Check out what I am selling here
Check out my eBay listings here.
Please follow my sister blog Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black.
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